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While I am not an Attorney, I am a small businessman who is advised extensively by Attorneys. The most consistent advice I get from my counsel is SHUT UP. What you DON'T say or write usually cannot hurt you. Try to remember that the person you are flaming is just that: a PERSON, JUST LIKE YOU, not some anonymous bit of text out in cyberspace. The same hopes, fears, dreams, and ego apply. If it's not true, don't write it. Even if it is, save it for Court. Courtesy and mutual respect for one-another's privacy are the only things that will allow the Net to be fully appreciated by all, without fear. Like the Fool sez, play nice, kids! Fool on, Glenn
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No. of Recommendations: 13
Like the Fool sez, play nice, kids!


Good afternoon Glen,

I think its wonderful to "play nice" on the discussion boards and try very hard to encourage our posters and myself to do likewise. However, I would like to point out that TMF Max( Bill Barker) is just one writer working for The Motley Fool who was expessing his own opinion. I don't think he was speaking for our company and he surely wasn't speaking for me. Unfortunately, his opinion was not on a message board, but instead his article was published and will be very wide-spread.

In my opinion, to wish CSFB luck in their lawsuit against eleven small investors who were critical of their analyst and who will now be forced at great expense to retain an attorney to defend themselves, and without knowing all the facts in the case, was a "rush to judgment" on TMF Max's part. Does he think all eleven posters called the analyst evil or worse? Do we know what the other ten posters said? All we know for sure is that this analyst was wrong in his analysis on Elan and evidently many Elan investors thought he was making very misleading and untrue statements and went after him. Before we all agree with TMF Max and applaud the "Wise" by encouraging them to sue small investors who are doing their own research and expressing their opinions on the Internet, I think we should have more facts about this case then we can decide which side was wronged. Innocent until proved guilty is still the law of the land. :)

Have a great weekend...

Keep Foolish and Prosper,

Spirit

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<<However, I would like to point out that TMF Max( Bill Barker) is just one writer working for The Motley Fool who was expessing his own opinion. I don't think he was speaking for our company and he surely wasn't speaking for me. Unfortunately, his opinion was not on a message board, but instead his article was published and will be very wide-spread.>>

Spirit,

Gosh, how did I get myself in the position that having my opinion widely read was unfortunate. :)

Hey, here's a question for people. Do libel and slander laws exist? Have you ever heard of them? Do you think they apply to you, at all and ever?

If you do, you might agree that calling someone dishonest, a criminal, evil and (in fact) a Nazi, just might qualify as slanderous. If those things don't qualify as slander, I'm really not sure what does, but there might be something.

You certainly don't have to agree that libel and slander laws should exist or should be enforced, but they are on the books. The dislike for their existence doesn't make them go away -- and that's central to understanding this case, which is only one of many that revolve around Internet speech and slander.

Now some people think that even if slander laws exist and should exist, they shouldn't on the Internet. The Internet is great because of (not in spite of) the in-your-face and hostile nature that so much information is exchanged. I don't happen to agree with that, but I've seen the argument presented with some intelligence.

<<In my opinion, to wish CSFB luck in their lawsuit against eleven small investors who were critical of their analyst and who will now be forced at great expense to retain an attorney to defend themselves, and without knowing all the facts in the case, was a "rush to judgment" on TMF Max's part. >>

Well, I hardly think I judged here, even by wishing luck. Perhaps I could have said "If the pleadings in the complaint as I understand that it is structured are true as alleged, I wish CSFB luck." That would be more accurate, and I would say that there are other places in the column where I included similar caveats about my opinion being based on a limited understanding of things. To the extent that these guys need to hire attorneys, a) my guess is that every single one of them can get out of the case by simply apologizing about anything ad hominem they said (though they may very well not wish to do that for any number of reasons), and b) the ACLU will be jumping at the chance to help out here anyway.

<<Does he think all eleven posters called the analyst evil or worse?>>

I have no knowledge about that. Anybody who didn't say anything in the realm of alleging dishonesty and/or criminality probably isn't a defendant.

<<All we know for sure is that this analyst was wrong in his analysis on Elan and evidently many Elan investors thought he was making very misleading and untrue statements and went after him. >>

They thought he was making dishonest statements that were in violation of his professional standards, and indeed had illegal motivations to say what he said. That is the allegation anyway. And for all I know he might be a criminal as they have apparently called him. That's a possibility I suppose, but you need to keep in mind that that's what was being accused in part.

Hey -- if my thoughts on this are truly unfortunate to have distributed and you want to take me up on this in something more high profile, I'm up for a Dueling Fools on this at any time. And I certainly agree that everybody is innocent until proven liable. But this case will never get that far anyway -- everybody is going to apologize and be done with it. At least that's my guess.

Thanks for the chance to disagree civilly,

Bill

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No. of Recommendations: 8
TMF Max, I think that there are really two issues arising from your article.

First is the libel/free speech issue which will be an ongoing topic and one with no real clear answer. Where does my right to disagree conflict with your right to espouse that with which I disagree?

In that respect your "play nice" suggestion certainly has merit. After all, people may disagree with my statements and I may disagree with theirs, but couching those differences in relatively "non-aggressive" language will at least keep the discussion at an acceptable level of civility.

"You are out of your ##$@%@#$@$ mind!!" and "You are totally wrong!!" CAN mean the same thing but tend to produce somewhat different results.


The second issue, I think, centers around your own admitted lack of research into the specifics of your article before you appeared to jump to the conclusion that the Eleven are guilty. Are their comments libelous or is CSFB trying to slap them down for embarrassing one of their analysts by trumpeting his alledgedly ongoing inaccuracy?

I was struck by a tone in your article that doesn't seem to take the "balanced" even-handed approach more commonly found here. At times it almost approached a "preachy editorial" rather than news and/or balanced commentary.


Interested in this issue, I took less than 3 hours and read ALL the ELN Yahoo! posts starting on April 1. The tone of the ELN board is quite civilized, not even as colorful as some of the Fool's more "exciting" boards, and certainly much milder than many of Yahoo's more volatile offerings. This certainly provided me with a different perspective than that announced by CSFB, although messages appearing and disappearing does raise some unanswered questions.

I realize it was Friday, you needed to get the article posted, time was a problem and you may not have been able to get to the board to read the message (Yahoo! computer problem?). How about a more indepth followup that educates us with a little more definitive guidance than "play nice" and perhaps a critique of both the Eleven and CSFB's actions.

Sorry, too long by half, but . . . .









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No. of Recommendations: 15
Good afternoon Bill,

You said: Do libel and slander laws exist? Have you ever heard of them? Do you think they apply to you, at all.

Yes, I think most of us have heard of libel and slander laws and I agree they apply to us all. However, I have been told by several attorneys that it's very hard to prove monetary damages from libelist statements. Most of the posters on the Yahoo board were criticizing the analyst and his motives and now CSFB is splitting hairs by dissecting their sentences in order to SHUT THEM UP. Stifle their dissent. It's like they are saying; "How dare you question our analyst or his motives, even if he is wrong!"

I know posters can't say an analyst is a criminal without providing proof. However, In America we can speculate, and say, "I think" that analyst might be a criminal because he did this or he did that. Isn't that correct? The key words here are;" I think and might be". I hear worse things said about President Bill Clinton in the media and in our own AOL Fool chat room almost every week and no lawyers from the White House have showed up yet. :)

Have you considered that Switzerland's Credit Suisse bank only bought out First Boston a few years ago and moved into our markets in a much bigger way? Even though Switzerland is a democracy and their citizens hold referendums on many things concerning their local governments, they also have a very elitist class that does NOT take criticism lightly.

In my opinion it would have been very unlikely that you would have seen such a law suit filed against the Elan 11 on behalf of a analyst by firms such as Merrill Lynch, DLJ, Morgan Stanley, E F. Hutton or Salomon Smith Barney. That is, unless CSFB wins and bankrupts most of the Elan investors who posted their analysis and opinions on the Yahoo message board. If that happens, then I think our Freedom of Speech will be greatly in peril.

Bill if I were an attorney I would love to debate you in a Dueling Fool about Freedom of Speech on the Internet and I appreciate the offer. I hope we have a Duel on this subject too. Please keep following this story because in my opinion, the outcome of this lawsuit can effect us all.

Keep Foolish and Prosper,

Spirit
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No. of Recommendations: 7
Some very interesting posts on here over the last couple of days with regard to the csfb lawsuit.

re a dueling fools debate on the subject, i think it's a great idea and I hope you can get around to doing it. I think from the number of posts here, on yahoo and elsewhere it is clear that this debate has captured the attention of a large number of people and will likely become even more prominent as more news channels decide to cover it.

For me the issue is one of the most important news stories of the year in many respects and has the potential to become a landmark event in the continued shaping of internet protocol and law. The whole freedom of speech debate and the way it is still relatively untested on the internet is hugely important not just for this case but for the future of the internet, day to day life and the economy.

At the present time the lines of what is and is not acceptable on the net are, as several people have already mentioned , extremely blurred. People don't know what they are allowed to say and enforcement of terms of service at many sites is often very variable. So there is the general issue of what should be allowed on chatrooms, as well as what constitutes libel on the internet and what is allowable/ which countries laws apply in a 'global' community.

Other issues include privacy on the net, when if ever should co's like yahoo disclose user information to third parties, and if they do, will that mean more and more people are encouraged to be dishonest when registering at sites? Also, there are the new services like freedom.net to be considered, as well as the fact that people can in theory avoid being held accountable for saying something online by registering and only using a chatroom account at a public internet terminal/cafe, or through a laptop away from a place that could be identified with them etc.

Then you have the issue about 'old economy' companies seeing the new internet age where people are currently able to reach much wider audiences to discuss company news/analyst research etc. This in theory gives the investor much more power and the large company much less power over opinion than has ever been the case in modern times. It is intersting to see how some existing companies have been so quick to embrace the web and look to benefit from it, while others appear to feel more threatened by it and less willing to recognise that the game has changed and change their own ways(no names mentioned).

As well as these wider issues, there are the specific merits of this case, the general quality of the message board posters' comments, the specific content of the allegedly harmful posts, the performance of the analyst concerned and the accuracy of his analysis, whether we are looking at the posters 'opinions' or what they are trying to pass as facts- (and surely they MUST only be opinions as it clearly states in yahoo's disclaimer on the message board that posts are the OPINIONS and responsibility of the poster concerned,) the reasoning behind the company's decision to sue and their own business reputation/track record.

Oh and while we're at it, the whole issue of brokerages, investment banks and the general performance, quality of research and recommendations that they provide to clients.

As I say when you go into this case, there's an awful lot to discuss, and I personally think the original TMF article by TMF Max was far too hasty in passing over some of the issues and reaching its conclusion.

Thanks to TMF Spirit for adding some excellent thoughts here. It's nice to see freedom of expression operating at TMF- I just hope we get that dueing fools debate, i'm sure it would be apprecisted by all.

ps I imagine anyone employed as a Public Relations advisor at csfb must have a demanding job these days!

best of luck to the elan 11, as always.

Steve
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Hey, Spirit:
I think you may have misunderstood my intent. My message was not intended as a blanket endorsement of TMFMax's article- I never even stated my agreement. Read carefully- it was a commentary on the potential dangers that await us all, should we be imprudent enough to assume that our posted thoughts are not subject to the same consequences that other forms of media are subject to. The right to disagree is central to the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, however, there is that burden of accuracy that must be taken into account whenever we choose to disagree. My message was really to the elan11, and others who would emulate them.
Take care,
Glenn
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No. of Recommendations: 10
Bill, the main point that people have made is that you had no familiarity with the posts or message board in question and yet expressed an opinion regarding the case.

The Elan board on Yahoo was an excellent board. Good content, good attitudes, the occasional nutbar, but on the whole very reasonable. The posts in question are, with one exception, opinions about the quality of Maris' work. Some question whether anyone getting paid to research a company so clearly executing a winning business plan could come out with such negative positions on the company and its prospects. Maris, his analyses and his motives were all opined on for good reason.

As far as I know, the message board was lightly read. It isn't anymore. CSFB has essentially pointed out how amateurs, in real time, did a better job of appraising Elan and other companies than their own analyst. Furthermore, CSFB now invites people to sift through their dirty laundry and publicize what is found.

Lastly, where CSFB suffered no lost business due to posters with names like Diogenes, Splaylaywahtheepi and LA_Broker, they are now likely to have lost significant business due to their own actions: alienating individual and institutional investors, and alienating others who may be put off by regurgitated allegations of past CS actions. Look: if Alan Greenspan or Peter Lynch had really taken Maris to task, that MIGHT have cost CSFB some small amount of business, but does anyone care if "wbpxxx" said anything about anything? I mean, he could be writing from cell block C or from McMurdo station, or from his 3rd grade classroom.

Bill, saying that you would rather have a monkey pick your stocks than David Maris does not constitute anything other than one man's opinion. You may consider that opinion vulgar, and that is your right; but, compare Maris' buy recommendations with the first 10 companies (alphabetically) in the biopharm sector during 1999: the latter were up 330%. Imagine your disappointment if the analyst at your brokerage firm couldn't out-do some whacko's phonebook approach.

You are welcome to compare my writing to the proverbial million monkeys spewing stuff out until they write the complete works of shakespeare. I can take it...

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<<Most of the posters on the Yahoo board were criticizing the analyst and his motives and now CSFB is splitting hairs by dissecting their sentences in order to SHUT THEM UP. Stifle their dissent. It's like they are saying; "How dare you question our analyst or his motives, even if he is wrong!" >>

If that's your interpretation of CSFB's motivations, of course I agree. It wouldn't even occur to me to write an article about something I thought had that little merit. If the facts show that your interpretation is correct, I'm sure that CSFB will be a laughingstock -- and I'll be there laughing at them with you.

And I'm also sure that out of the eleven individuals, more than one will be shown to be included in the lawsuit in error. That's pretty obvious to me -- there are different facts that are going to apply to each, and it isn't unlikely that more than one has done nothing that will rise to the level of slander.

Furthermore, my guess is that all defendants will believe themselves to be totally in the right, and be able to describe their actions that way.

If this case is like, oh, every single one I was ever involved with as an attorney, the truth will lie somewhere in the middle as to whether CSFB or the Elan 11 are totally in the wrong on this one.

But there's a first time for everything. Maybe CSFB has filed the most ridiculous lawsuit in the history of mankind. That would surprise me, but it's possible.

Bill
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No. of Recommendations: 9
I think you may have misunderstood my intent. My message was not intended as a blanket endorsement of TMFMax's article- I never even stated my agreement. Read
carefully- it was a commentary on the potential dangers that await us all, should we be impruden enough to assume that our posted thoughts are not subject to the same consequences that other forms of media are subject to. The right to disagree is central to the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, however, there is that burden of accuracy that must be taken into account whenever we choose to disagree. My message was really to the elan11, and others who would emulate them.



Hi Glenn,

I guess I just sounded off with my own opinion about this lawsuit while addressing your post. :) I realize you never endorsed the CSFB lawsuit or TMF Max's article. I also agree with you in that we should try to be as accurate as possible whenever posting. But you know thats not always possible, because we all get our information from a wide variety of sources and sometimes they're wrong. Barons, the WSJ and every other media outlet has had to make retractions from time to time and they are rarely sued for misstating facts that they must later correct. Isn't it a shame the Elan Eleven didn't say,"it has been alleged" or "in my opinion' or "I was told by a good authority that " Mr. Maris is goofy, or he did a very poor analysis of Elan or whatever? If they had been schooled in the language of a professional journalist this lawsuit might not have happened.

Maybe our forum should give some lessons on how Fools can criticize an analyst, a journalist or another poster with a very little chance of getting sued. We all know the obvious, don't make up lies to defame anyone, and don't use profanity but looking at what some of the Elan 11 said, were they all really lying in a malious effort to defame him? If we are stopped from criticizing an analyst or a politican's opinion that we do not agree with because of the fear of being sued, than we have lost a great deal of our freedom.

I wonder if TMF Max or TMF Law would like to write an article to help our community lean how to use the language of the journalists...These folks can "flame", insult and criticize just about anyone they please and rarely are they sued. I know many here would welcome it.

Thanks again Glen for your thoughts.

Keep Foolish and Prosper,


Spirit


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No. of Recommendations: 6
<<The second issue, I think, centers around your own admitted lack of research into the specifics of your article before you appeared to jump to the conclusion that the Eleven are guilty.>>

5and10,

Sorry if I wasn't clear. I don't have the information in front of me to offer an opinion on whether any one, much less every one, of the defendants might be liable. (Not "guilty" here -- we're talking civil law, not criminal. :) ) I hold open the possibility that under the facts as I understand them to be alleged, the actions could result in a finding of liability, should the case go that far (which I sincerely doubt).

<<I was struck by a tone in your article that doesn't seem to take the "balanced" even-handed approach more commonly found here. At times it almost approached a "preachy editorial" rather than news and/or balanced commentary. >>

It was written in the "Fool on the Hill" column, which is subtitled, "An Investment Opinion." That's what I hold it out as, an opinion.

Regarding the balance, I did manage to call CSFB "utterly silly" and note that my opinion was that the analyst had perhaps lost perspective. I tried to explain some of the shades of gray that I perceive here, the impressions based on 10 years in the field, imperfect knowledge of the specific case, and a desire to cover a wider area than is applicable to this one case. I don't claim to have succeeded perfectly on executing what I had hoped to.

<<I realize it was Friday, you needed to get the article posted, time was a problem and you may not have been able to get to the board to read the message (Yahoo! computer problem?). How about a more indepth followup that educates us with a little more definitive guidance than "play nice" and perhaps a critique of both the Eleven and CSFB's actions.>>

Well, thanks for giving me that many excuses, but I suppose maybe I just didn't really get across what I wished to through lack of skill as a writer? I hope to return to the issue soon -- it is obviously one that merits further review given the state of interest and confusion.

Thanks for your thoughtful critique,

Bill Barker



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No. of Recommendations: 8
Hello again TMF Max,

What are we doing on the message boards this late on a Saturday night?

You said: I did manage to call CSFB "utterly silly" and noted that my opinion was that the analyst had perhaps lost perspective. Bill, be careful, calling CSFB "utterly silly" because they may consider that as slanderous as one of the Elan Eleven saying their analyst was "goofy". :)

Take care and have a great Sunday.

Spirit


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No. of Recommendations: 7
'This board is not connected with the company. These messages are only the opinion of the poster, are no substitute for your own research, and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose'...

...so says the reminder on yahoo message boards which is part of the terms of service which all posters must agree to be agreeant to when they sign up and use any Yahoo message board. It is also there to advise anyone reading these messages to let them know that the information must not be relied upon for any purpose.

TMF Spirit said...

<<Isn't it a shame the Elan Eleven didn't say,"it has been alleged" or "in my opinion' or "I was told by a good authority that " Mr. Maris is goofy, or he did a very poor analysis of Elan or whatever? If they had been schooled in the language of a professional journalist this lawsuit might not have happened>>

but surely on reading the disclaimer on yahoo as well as at several other message board sites, this automatically makes the views expressed by a poster to be 'in their opinion'? Therefore it would appear to follow, that even if the poster says the analyst IS/ SAID/ DID, it should automatically have the words 'in my opinion' placed invisibly in front of those views due to yahoo's reminder.

I am no legal expert, but I would appreciate any opinions on this issue, because I fail to see how the opinions of others that under the TOS of yahoo should not be relied upon by readers for any purpose, can be seen as having caused material damage to a company. If anyone believes anything they read on message boards without doing their own DD and getting independant verification from a reliable source that is not just 'the opinions of the poster' then surely that is their own fault and not the legal responsibility of the poster?

Thanks to the TMF team and others for giving this whole situation so much attention and thought of late. It's clear from the strength of public reaction that people care passionately about both this individual case, and the wider issues. I hope we get to see some more articles and a dueling fools feature that go into this case and the wider issues. It would certainly be much appreciated by this poster!

Thanks to all, and good luck to the Elan eleven!

Steve



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TMFSpirit said:
All we know for sure is that this analyst was wrong in his analysis on Elan
and evidently many Elan investors thought he was making very misleading and untrue statements and went after him.


I've been lurking around here for a little over a year, and I don't have 5000 posts or anything, but I just can't keep my nose out of this one.

I have seen SOOOO many posts that jump to conclusions and make assumptions like this one:

All we know for sure
OK, so here's what we can be absolutely positive about:

...this analyst was wrong in his analysis...
I haven't personally done all the research, but it's a good bet.

then
...and evidently many Elan investors...
Doesn't evidently mean that we don't have proof yet? So how can we "know?"

...thought he was making very misleading and untrue statements...
Oh, so now we "know for sure" what "investors thought" based on evidence in their posts! Well, I feel much better knowing I can believe everything I read online and know it for sure!

When people publish messages they need to keep in mind what assumptions people are going to make when they read them. And when people read messages, the need to realize that the writer might not have used the perfect language to get his message across to every Tom, Dick, & Harriet. I guess it's too much to expect everyone to keep an open mind.

-Eric
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but surely on reading the disclaimer on yahoo as well as at several other message board sites, this automatically makes the views expressed by a poster to be 'in their opinion'? Therefore it would appear to follow, that even if the poster says the analyst IS/ SAID/ DID, it should automatically have the words 'in my opinion' placed invisibly in front of those views due to yahoo's reminder.

Good morning Steve,

You made a very good point and hopefully the Elan Eleven's attorney will try to use the Yahoo disclaimer as part of their defense.

I too am looking forward to follow up articles by our staff or a Dueling Fool on this subject. I wish I were an attorney because I would have loved to take TMF Max up on his gracious offer to Duel.:)

Best wishes,

Spirit

PS: I hope at least one member of Elan Eleven is reading this board and tries to get ACLU interested in their case.

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No. of Recommendations: 2
Dear Eric,

You are dissecting sentences and taking a few words per sentence right out of a meaningful paragraph in an effort to put a negative spin on their meaning. I guess some readers enjoy doing that but I prefer reading the entire paragraph in order to get a clear understanding of the author's intent.

You said;

When people publish messages they need to keep in mind what assumptions people are going to make when they read them. And when people read messages, the need to realize that the writer might not have used the perfect language to get his message across to every Tom, Dick, & Harriet.

I disagree...most people don't make wild assumptions based on a few words plucked out of a paragraph. How can any author write and be responsible for a biased assumption some reader wants to cast on a few select words? Maybe we need to teach the Tom, Dick and Harriet to read the entire article or post before assuming anything. :)


Keep Foolish and Prosper,

Spirit
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"I think" that analyst might be a criminal because he did this or he did that. Isn't that correct? The key words here are;" I think and might be".

This is an interesting question, do you really have to say those words?

If I am talking to people, not as a paid speaker or expert, and make no claims to that effect, then won't they automatically think it's just my opinion? In court, my opinion would be objected to by a lawyer as being "heresay".

I am of the belief that, in that same, way, everything on a message board is by default opinion, unless the person makes some claim as to being an expert or claims "I know for a fact that this is true". This is because a message board is just a public forum, and the readers know the other posters are just average joes like themselves.

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No. of Recommendations: 13
TMFMax says...

<<But this case will never get that far anyway -- everybody is going to apologize and be done with it. At least that's my guess. >>


My mind reels at the seeming flippant nature of this remark. Apparently the people who are being sued have all the money they ever need for lawyers. Also, they won't suffer any emotional distress for their remarks. This is all just like a high school civics class, where no one gets hurt, even if the legal sword of financial ruin hangs over their heads for years. After everyone apologizes, they will all go out for a group hug and photo. Is this a 30 minute sitcom with a happy ending?

No. This is a serious dicussion about free speech. And First Boston doesn't have to earn a penny, or even go to court to intimidate and discourage posters from posting negative thoughts about them in the future.

In this 21st century, freedom of speech is not threatened by a legion in masks coming into my house at night. But if I am afraid to speak because a legion of lawyers threaten to ruin me financially, is the end result not the same?

Now let me be honest and clear here. I don't know what was said on the Yahoo board. It's not really important to me personally. Any message board which is publicly accessable will contain junk, useless unprovable statements and personal remarks which do not add value. Its alot like people exchanging opinions at the coffee pot at work every day. Its up to the intelligent readers to sift through the chaff.

Do we really want the courts in this country to enforce civility? That scares me.

Of course, maybe message boards are capable of bringing down entire corporations, and therefore we need these lawsuits. Perhaps a couple of really mean posts by someone can bring down the Cuban government? Yes, please protect us from evil all-powerful message boards.

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No. of Recommendations: 3
vtnaevh said in #4519 << When people publish messages they need to keep in mind what assumptions people are going to make when they read them. And when people read messages, the need to realize that the writer might not have used the perfect language to get his message across to every Tom, Dick, & Harriet. I guess it's too much to expect everyone to keep an open mind. >>

I believe the above statement says something important about how to approach public message boards as both a contributor and a reader. It is both idealistic and naïve in its call for a presumption of good will and intellectual honesty. Call me a Fool, but I happen to agree with Eric's statement -- including, unfortunately, the sad truth in its last sentence: "I guess it's too much to expect everyone to keep an open mind."

Spirit replied in #4522 << I disagree...most people don't make wild assumptions based on a few words plucked out of a paragraph. How can any author write and be responsible for a biased assumption some reader wants to cast on a few select words? Maybe we need to teach the Tom, Dick and Harriet to read the entire article or post before assuming anything. :) >>

I agree that it would be good if we could teach people to read the entire article, and background articles, or the entire post, or thread, before assuming anything. We're talking about context here, which is not only a good thing, it may well be the only thing.

I also agree that authors -- if there are to be authors -- have only limited responsibility for, and limited ability to prevent, a biased reading of their original words; the biased presentation of their words, selected and taken out of context; the biased presentation of their ideas, paraphrased and "interpreted" by others; and the cumulative results of all that. That's life in -- if you'll excuse the expression -- the marketplace of ideas.

I also agree that "most people don't make wild assumptions based on" actions such as I just described.

Unfortunately, it doesn't require "most people," or the making of "wild assumptions," to pollute an information environment. It takes only a small quantity of the right combination of incentive, will, "élan," and the ability to construct credible untruths; and an audience with a complementary incentive to believe, and insufficient will or energy to think for itself. At their intersection, the "wild assumption" is domesticated as a pet, while good will dissolves and intellectual honesty prostitutes itself as an expert witness at the witch trial.

Anonymity and money have a way of doing that.

Beware flatterers and reassurers.

Watch the parking meters.

Click on.

Nico


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Unfortunately, it doesn't require "most people," or the making of "wild assumptions," to pollute an information environment. It takes only a small quantity of the right combination of incentive, will, "élan," and the ability to construct credible untruths; and an audience with a complementary incentive to believe, and insufficient will or energy to think for itself. At their intersection, the "wild assumption" is domesticated as a pet, while good will dissolves and intellectual honesty prostitutes itself as an expert witness at the witch trial.

Excellent food for thought Nico....in fact, it's profound.


Spirit
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This is a serious discussion about free speech. And First Boston doesn't have to earn a penny, or even go to court to intimidate and discourage posters from posting negative thoughts about them in the future.

Regardless of the merits of their case, CSFB has and will be on the receiving end of a lot of negative postings about them, as a direct result of the suit.
(And they had to know that going into it.)
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TMFSpirit said:
You are dissecting sentences and taking a few words per sentence right out of a meaningful paragraph in an effort to put a negative spin on their meaning. I guess some readers enjoy doing that but I prefer reading the entire paragraph in order to get a clear understanding of the author's intent.

Hmmmm....How ironic! That was exactly my point, that people misinterpret what they read. It seems we agree.

...most people don't make wild assumptions based on a few words plucked out of a paragraph.

Maybe it's just what sticks, but there are tons of messages out there flaming one person or another for the intent of their post. So I'm guessing they're either making assumptions or just doing it for fun. Maybe some of both, and that's what makes this such an exciting environment, but some people are a little too quick to judge.

How can any author write and be responsible for a biased assumption some reader wants to cast on a few select words?

Most of the offense I've seen isn't on the poster of the original message, but of the replies. Obviously the original author can only be expected to do so much to get his point across -- but the readers need to do their DD on intent before they get bent out of shape.

Then TMFNico said:
Unfortunately, it doesn't require "most people," or the making of "wild assumptions," to pollute an information environment. It takes only a small quantity of the right combination of incentive, will, "élan," and the ability to construct credible untruths; and an audience with a complementary incentive to believe, and insufficient will or energy to think for itself. At their intersection, the "wild assumption" is domesticated as a pet, while good will dissolves and intellectual honesty prostitutes itself as an expert witness at the witch trial.

Whoa! I think I agree....

trying to keep the faith,
Eric
(since 1902)
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Most of the offense I've seen isn't on the poster of the original message, but of the replies. Obviously the original author can only be expected to do so much to get his point across --but the readers need to do their DD on intent before they get bent out of shape.

Eric, yes indeed, we do agree! Thanks for your thoughts.


Spirit
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Excellent post markenator.

You concluded by saying; Perhaps a couple of really mean posts by someone can bring down the Cuban government? Yes, please protect us from evil all-powerful message boards.

This morning TMF Braden in our Breakfast with the Fool quoted Thomas Jefferson saying...." No more good must be attempted than the people can bear"; http://fool.com/news/breakfast/breakfast.htm and reflecting about what Thomas Jefferson and other founders of our country thought about Freedom seems timely.

Keep Foolish and Prosper,

Spirit
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